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BurmaNet News: May 2, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
May 2, 2001 Issue # 1796
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Reuters: Myanmar opposition breaks silence, urges democracy
*AFP: Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers ask court to throw out eviction suit
*AP: Myanmar says Thailand became aggressive after pledges of U.S.
*Reuters: Myanmar troops take Shan rebel base near Thailand
*DVB: Exiled Burmese leader welcomes Rangoon-Suu Kyi talks
*AFP: Thai, Myanmar drug trade row escalates as foreign ministers meet
*AP: Thai Army condemns deadly attack on village at Thai-Myanmar border
*Reuters: Thai foreign minister plays down Myanmar clashes
*AP:Thai army vows retaliation after villagers killed by Myanmar ethnic
*The Nation: Thai foreign minister's moves to ease tension with Burma
"draw cool response"
*Kyodo: Myanmar accuses Thailand of defamation campaign
*AFP: Asia's military governments meet as Pakistan leader arrives in
*The Observer: Promoting freedom in Burma
*Business Times (Malaysia): Business as usual in Myanmar despite US
*BurmaNet: Myanmar Chamber of Commerce changes tune on sanctions
*The New Light of Myanmar (SPDC): Beware of poisonous relations
*Berlitz GlobalNET: Burmese Interpreters needed
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Reuters: Myanmar opposition breaks silence, urges democracy
By Aung Hla Tun
YANGON, May 2 (Reuters) - Myanmar's opposition National League for
Democracy (NLD) broke a six-month silence this week by calling on the
country's military government to move quickly to install democracy.
In its first public political statement since talks between the two
sides began late last year, the NLD said human rights and standards of
living were suffering from the tight rule imposed by the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC).
``It is essential for Myanmar to become a real democratic nation so
that human rights and workers rights will fully flourish and political,
economic and social conditions will develop soundly,'' the NLD said in a
four-page statement dated May 1 and received by Reuters on Wednesday.
``We earnestly call on the SPDC, that has taken the state power, to
work towards the emergence of a new democratic state as soon as
possible,'' said the statement which was written in the Myanmar
The government and opposition's self-imposed public silence on domestic
political issues appeared to have been broken by both sides this week.
On Monday Myanmar's foreign minister told a news conference the talks
were at a ``complex and delicate'' stage, and denied recent reports the
dialogue had stalled.
``It has not stalled,'' he said. ``But we hope that this process, which
is very much complex and delicate should be left confidential. The
freedom of the country very much depends on this.''
Since the talks began the state-run media has stopped publishing
A senior NLD figure told Reuters the party's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi,
had asked members to avoid ``any activity that would embarrass the
Suu Kyi led the NLD to a landslide victory in Myanmar's last general
election in 1990 but has never been allowed to govern.
The country has been shunned by many foreign governments who accuses
Myanmar of systematic human rights abuses.
AFP: Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers ask court to throw out eviction suit
YANGON, May 2 (AFP) - Lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi Wednesday asked a
court to throw out a property suit filed by her brother Aung San Oo, who
is making his second bid to evict the democracy leader from her lakeside
US-based businessman Aung San Oo's first attempt to claim
half-ownership of the house, where Aung San Suu Kyi has been confined
for the last eight months by the ruling junta, was dismissed on a
technicality in January.
Last month he lodged the case for the second time by applying for a
legal partition of the property.
Opening the defence case Wednesday, Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers said
Aung San Oo had no right to apply for his sister to be evicted because,
as a foreigner, he has no right to own property in Myanmar.
They also said his application for partition was filed after the
statute of limitations expired in the case, coming more than 12 years
after the death of their mother who formerly owned the house.
Judge Soe Thein set a date of May 14 for the next hearing into the
case, where Aung San Oo's legal team is expected to open its argument.
If he wins the case, Aung San Oo is expected to turn his share of the
house over to the government, a result which would put Aung San Suu Kyi
in an extremely precarious position.
Ironically, the legal action has been lodged at a time when relations
between Myanmar's junta and the opposition leader are believed to be at
their highest point in years.
The two sides have engaged in a series of high-level contacts that may
be preparing the ground for the launch of a landmark official dialogue
-- their first since 1994.
Aung San Oo has never played a political role in Myanmar but makes
regular low-key personal and business trips here. While not overtly
political, he is far less critical of the junta than his sister and the
two are not close.
The legal action is believed to be driven by Aung San Oo's wife,
motivated more by a family rift than by political concerns.
Nevertheless, there are fears that if the suit is successful it could
derail the tentative dialogue which has entered an extremely delicate
AP: Myanmar says Thailand became aggressive after pledges of U.S.
May 2, 2001
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Officials in Myanmar charged Wednesday that
Thailand began backing attacks against their country after receiving
pledges of military support from the United States.
Speaking at a news conference, they also claimed that Thai authorities
have been planting illegal drugs at abandoned Myanmar government
military outposts to make it appear that there is official involvement
in the drug trade.
The news conference, hosted by members of the intelligence services,
was held to give Myanmar's version of recent fighting along the border
involving ethnic rebel groups that has spilled over into occasional
clashes with the Thai military. It was held as Thai Foreign Minister
Surakiart Sathirathai was visiting to hold talks with his Myanmar
counterpart Win Aung.
Relations between Thailand and Myanmar soured badly after their troops
clashed in February when Myanmar forces crossed into Thailand during an
attack on ethnic minority rebels.
Thailand has become increasingly outspoken in the past year in blaming
Myanmar for a massive influx of methamphetamine that it considers a
threat to national security.
Thailand publicly accuses Myanmar's military government of turning a
blind eye while ethnic minority groups produce methamphetamine and
smuggle it into Thailand.
Myanmar's government denies the accusation.
Lt. Col. San Pwint, a member of the Office of Strategic Services, said
Adm. Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, and
then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited Thailand in September
last year to pledge support to the Thai army and to jointly carry out
anti-narcotics operations with the Thai military along the Myanmar
``Since the visits of the U.S. officials to Thailand, the Thai army has
mounted attacks along the border,'' he said. ``Putting ethnic rebels in
the front, the Thai army has consistently assisted the rebels along the
Myanmar-Thai border since February, attacking small military outposts,''
San Pwint said.
He also referred to a U.S. program to train a special Thai military
task force in northern Thailand to help stem the drug flow.
In a briefing to journalists in Bangkok last week, a U.S. military
spokesman stressed that U.S. troops will serve only as trainers and will
not be involved in any operations.
San Pwint said that because Thailand was unable to solve its domestic
drug problem, it was ``deliberately launching a dirty campaign to defame
Myanmar by overrunning military outposts and claiming drug seizures,
apparently planted by them.''
Speaking in Bangkok, Thai Foreign Ministry Spokesman Norachit Sinhaseni
said the accusations that Thai forces planted drugs were ``groundless''
and did not merit a response.
He said the United States provided support to Thailand by helping train
its military in how to deal with the drug problem.
Reuters: Myanmar troops take Shan rebel base near Thailand
BANGKOK, May 2 (Reuters) - Myanmar government forces in eastern Shan
State captured a base from ethnic minority Shan guerrillas on Wednesday
and were poised to take another two rebel strongholds near the Thai
border, Thai army officials said.
Hundreds of Myanmar forces launched an overnight assault on the Shan
State Army (SSA) hill base, pounding it with mortar bombs, before
securing it at daybreak, said Thai Colonel Chainarong Klaewkla in
northern Chiang Mai province bordering Shan State.
The fighting was part of a two-week Myanmar government offensive
against the separatist SSA, which operates along the Thai-Myanmar border
that forms part of the Golden Triangle, a hilly opium-producing area
straddling Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.
The Thai army said earlier this week stray mortar bombs from fighting
between Myanmar and SSA forces landing on Thai territory had prompted it
to fire numerous warning rounds back into the contested area across the
Several Thai villagers in the border area have been killed by stray
shelling in recent days.
SSA officials said their forces had killed several hundred Myanmar
soldiers in clashes on Monday but that figure could not be confirmed by
DVB: Exiled Burmese leader welcomes Rangoon-Suu Kyi talks
Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 30 Apr 01
Prime Minister Sein Win of the US-based National Coalition Government of
the Union of Burma has welcomed remarks by the foreign minister of
Rangoon's ruling State Peace and Development Council, U Win Aung, that
talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were making progress. Sein Win said the
talks should be reported in local media. Rangoon should honour its
promise to release political prisoners, Sein Win said. Rangoon should
also abolish forced labour, rights abuses and restriction of social
freedom because these issues are not related to the talks, Sein Win
added. The following is an excerpt from a report by Burmese opposition
radio on 30 April
SPDC State Peace and Development Council Foreign Minister U Win Aung
said today that the SPDC-Daw Aung San Suu Kyi talks continued to make
progress and was not a political ploy. U Win Aung told this to reporters
at the end of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat...
DVB Democratic Voice of Burma correspondent Ko Moe Aye contacted Dr Sein
Win, prime minister of the National Coalition Government of the Union of
Burma NCGUB , and interviewed him about his views regarding SPDC Foreign
Minister U Win Aung's remarks. He first asked Dr Sein Win's comments on
Dr Sein Win In his comments he said the talks are not stalled and
continued to make progress. He also mentioned that it is not a publicity
stunt and it is aimed at the future of Burma. That is why we are happy
and we welcomed the remarks because the talks are very important for the
country. We believe that the talks should and must continue.
Ko Moe Aye U Win Aung also said by looking at the halt in the attacks
between the SPDC and the National League for Democracy NLD one can see
the positive affects of the talks. What is your opinion?
Dr Sein Win We are also happy about that because to stop confrontation
preceding word rendered in English is a good sign.
Ko Moe Aye Furthermore, the SPDC claimed they are considering monthly to
release political prisoners. They have are also released some political
prisoners. What do you think about that?
Dr Sein Win What I would like to say at this point is that it is a good
thing to release political prisoners especially the youth but as far as
we are concerned, there are about 300 political prisoners whose release
dates are overdue. Only 20 among them have been released. We see that
there are no reasons whatsoever for them to keep the political prisoners
in jail. Therefore, the remark that the SPDC will gradually release the
political prisoners is not genuine because once the talks have started
why should the political prisoners remain in jail. We feel that it is
time to release the political prisoners.
Ko Moe Aye U Win Aung continued to say that the talks are very delicate,
difficult, and complicated and he cited examples of peace talks in
Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. What about that?
Dr Sein Win Firstly, I want to say that these are not directly related
to our affairs. For example, the Middle East crisis involves two
countries whereas ours is solely an internal matter, an internal
conflict. I think that was not an appropriate example to give. Another
matter of concern is the 1990 general elections. The general elections
which the SPDC/SLORC State Law and Order Restoration Council themselves
sponsored was held nearly 11 years ago. We have not only just formed.
The people voted and the National League for Democracy NLD won the
elections and received the people's mandate. That was almost 11 years
ago. That is why the comparison that talks should take as long as
required is not reasonable.
At the same time, no matter how difficult the talks may be, I believe
that forced labour, human rights abuses and restriction of social
freedom should not continue to exist anymore because they are not
related to the talks. They need to get rid of all these which are not
relevant in a civilized society preceding two words rendered in English
. If they continue with the abuses, the talks will be just talks, while
the people continue to suffer and the country degenerates. Therefore, I
would like to urge them it is time to stop such acts.
Ko Moe Aye Finally, U Win Aung said the SPDC has been offering the olive
branch for a long time. It has taken so long because the NLD did not
accept it. The talks started when NLD accepted the offer. What is your
Dr Sein Win That is totally false. NLD offered to hold talks immediately
after winning the elections. It was also mentioned in the Gandhi
Declaration. We definitely offered to hold talks. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
herself has been calling for a dialogue since 1988. That is publicly
known to all. Another thing I want to say is that if they genuinely feel
that the talks are for the good of the country they should issue an
internal report and inform the public. So far the SPDC's information
service - newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV stations have not been
instrumental in announcing the talks to the public. I do not see that as
a good sign. If they are true and honest it is high time to let the
AFP: Thai, Myanmar drug trade row escalates as foreign ministers meet
YANGON, May 2 (AFP) - Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai met
with his Myanmar counterpart Win Aung here Wednesday amid an escalating
bitter row over the drug trade along their common border.
Surakiart's trip, on the heels of an Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Yangon, was aimed at clearing the air between
the two neighbours after months of wrangling.
The trouble began in February when fighting between rival ethnic
militias operating along the border -- both reputedly involved in the
drugs trade -- sparked a rare clash between the two national armies.
Some 700 million methamphetamines pills churned out in jungle
refineries inside Myanmar are estimated to make their way into Thailand
each year, feeding an addiction crisis estimated to affect six percent
of the population.
High-level talks went some way to easing the tension, but renewed
conflict in the border region in past days has threatened to cause a
further deterioration in relations.
On Wednesday the military regime launched a fresh attack on Thailand,
accusing its troops of raiding border outposts alongside ethnic groups
including the Shan State Army (SSA) and the Karen National union (KNU).
Thailand's Third Army used heavy artillery to provide cover for the
raids, deputy chief of military intelligence Kyaw Win said in a press
"They are using both ground forces as well as artillery to attack these
outposts, and have now gone one step further by announcing they have
found drugs at these outposts," he said.
Thailand was "trying to smear the name of the military government by
accusing it of being involved in drugs," said Colonel San Pwint from the
Office of Strategic Studies, the military's think tank.
"It is a deliberate effort by the Thais to blame Myanmar because they
cannot handle the drug problem in their own country."
San Pwint dismissed Thailand's claims that it only fired warnings shots
to prevent fighting from spilling over the border, saying the lightning
raids had seen up to 500 artillery rounds unleashed in a single day.
The campaign was aimed at impressing United States anti-narcotics
agencies and "bringing down the censure of the international community
on Myanmar," he said.
The fighting is expected to die down in the next few weeks as the
monsoon seaon begins, hampering the movement of government and rebel
troops around the rugged border region.
But San Pwint hinted the Myanmar regime would step up military action
if the trouble persisted.
"Our nation has no intention of antagonising our neighbours ... but if
they, together with insurgent elements, continue to attack our outposts
we will retaliate against all those using arms against us," he said.
After spending the first day of his trip on a tour of Myanmar's
historic sites, Surakiart met Wednesday with Win Aung and was due to see
the junta's influential chief of military intelligence
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt.
Hanging over their heads will be the angry accusations traded between
the neighbours, and Thailand's claims that Myanmar has turned a blind
eye to the narcotics trade which it rates as its number one threat to
Thailand's new Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra fired the opening
salvo in the debate early this year by declaring a "war on drugs" and
ordering officials to find ways to close down the narcotics trade.
AP: Thai Army condemns deadly attack on village at Thai-Myanmar border
May 2, 2001
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ The Thai Army on Wednesday condemned an attack
by pro-Myanmar ethnic Karen guerrillas that killed three Thai civilians
and injured five others, heightening tension along the Thai-Myanmar
The army said in a statement that Tuesday's ``inhumane'' attack by
``unidentified intruders'' killed innocent people. It warned Thailand
would ``use all means to protect lives and property of Thai people, as
well as Thai sovereignty.''
Villagers and local Thai military said about 60 guerrillas of the
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, or DKBA, attacked a Thai military
checkpoint near Molithai village in northwestern Tak province, on the
river border between the two countries, using mortars and rocket
Two Thai soldiers were injured. It was not clear if the DKBA suffered
The Myanmar government has yet to comment about the incident, the
latest in a string of skirmishes that have soured bilateral relations.
In February, Myanmar and Thai forces clashed directly, the worst armed
confrontation between the two countries in years.
The DKBA is a pro-Yangon ethnic army that was formed by disgruntled
fighters from another ethnic Karen army that wages a resistance war
against the Myanmar regime.
Myanmar claims that the Thai army has been escalating the military
situation at the border in recent months by supporting different groups
of anti-Yangon rebels against Myanmar forces, which Thailand denies.
Late Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, commander of the 3rd
Army region in northern Thailand, said the DKBA launched the attack
because it was angered that the Thai army had seized large quantities of
the illegal stimulant methamphetamine from them in the past few weeks.
He threatened deadly retaliation for Tuesday's intrusion.
``We have lost three people but the intruders will lose more, the
retaliation for this will be tough,'' he told reporters.
Thailand is increasingly frustrated by the flood of heroin and
methamphetamines smuggled from Myanmar, also known as Burma. Myanmar
says it does all it can to police the border.
Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai was expected to raise the
drugs issue in two days of talks in Yangon with the Myanmar regime.
As he arrived, Myanmar accused the Thai Army of firing hundreds of
artillery shells over the frontier to support anti-Yangon Shan rebels
currently fighting Myanmar government forces. Thailand says the shells
were fired as a warning, after Myanmar artillery against the rebels
landed on Thai soil.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Myanmar denied reported allegations by the Shan
rebels that it was using chemical weapons against them. The regime
dismissed the claims as ``sensational accusations,'' in a statement
received in Bangkok.
The Bangkok Post quoted the Shan State Army as claiming its guerrillas
had developed rashes and breathing difficulties after being exposed to
smoke and dust from Myanmar shells.
AP:Thai army vows retaliation after villagers killed by Myanmar ethnic
May 2 2001
MOLITHAI, Thailand (AP) _ A Thai general threatened deadly retaliation
after three villagers from Thailand were killed and five injured early
Tuesday when pro-Myanmar ethnic Karen guerrillas clashed with Thai
border security forces.
``We have lost three people but the intruders will lose more, the
retaliation for this will be tough,'' Lt. Gen. Wattanachai Chaimuanwong,
commander of the 3rd Army region in northern Thailand, told reporters.
The Thai army and villagers said the ethnic guerrillas of the
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, or DKBA, attacked a Thai military
checkpoint at Molithai on the Thai side of the border, about 350
kilometers (220 miles) northwest of Bangkok, and battered the civilian
settlement with rocket propelled grenades.
Two Thai soldiers were injured in the attack. It was not clear if the
DKBA suffered any casualties
Wattanachai said the DKBA launched the attack because it was angered
that the Thai army had seized large quantities of the illegal stimulant
methamphetamine from them in the past few weeks and was threatening them
over the drugs.
The attack was also apparently in retaliation for an assault by an
anti-Yangon rebel army, the Karen National Union, on a DKBA border base
on April 22 that killed four people in Myanmar. Myanmar, also known as
Burma, claimed Thailand supported that raid.
Some 1,500 Thai villagers, all from the Karen ethnic minority that
lives on both sides of the border, were evacuated to a schoolhouse seven
kilometers (four miles) inside Thailand.
The injured Thais were being treated at local hospitals. The fatalities
were identified by hospital staff as 13-year old girl Tholamai
Khirikwin, 21-year old woman Siwaphon Chaodonkhinich, and Loongyin
Tarkham, a 64-year old man.
``The army will submit a protest letter and at the same time the
retaliation at the scene will go on,'' said Gen. Wattanachai, saying the
military activities had nothing to do with a meeting in the Myanmar
capital Yangon which was being attended by the foreign ministers of
Thailand, Myanmar and other Southeast Asian nations.
``We are not fighting against Burma, but we will retaliate against the
DKBA because Burma lets the DKBA administer that area, which is rich
from logging, mining and drug producing,'' Wattanachai said.
The Myanmar government gave no immediate comment about Tuesday's
incident, which has heightened tensions at the border, where a string of
skirmishes have soured bilateral relations.
Myanmar's regime claims that the Thai army has been escalating the
military situation by supporting different groups of anti-Yangon rebels
against Myanmar forces, which Thailand denies.
Among the groups it believes Thailand helps is the KNU, which has been
fighting for autonomy in Myanmar for five decades. The DKBA is a
pro-Myanmar army that was set up by disgruntled KNU fighters.
The root of the bilateral tensions is the drugs trade. Thailand alleges
that Myanmar is not doing enough to stop heroin and methamphetamines
crossing their shared border. Myanmar says it does all it can and
accuses Thailand of blaming it for domestic problems such as addictions
and drug-linked crime.
Reuters: Thai foreign minister plays down Myanmar clashes
By Andrew Marshall
YANGON, May 2 (Reuters) - Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai
ended his first official visit to Myanmar on Wednesday insisting
relations between the two governments were good despite border clashes
between their soldiers.
Surakiart arrived in Yangon on Sunday for an informal meeting of
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers and
stayed on for bilateral talks with his Myanmar counterpart Win Aung.
Weekend violence soured the atmosphere. Thailand's military says it
fired warning shots across the border on Sunday after stray shells fired
by Myanmar troops landed in Thailand.
The Myanmar troops were fighting to retake three bases, just 100 metres
(yards) from the Thai border, that were overrun by ethnic minority Shan
rebels earlier this month. They recaptured one base on Wednesday and
hoped to take the others soon.
Myanmar says the Shan rebels are ``drug bandits'' and has repeatedly
accused the Thai military of backing them.
Surakiart told a news conference in Yangon the weekend firing -- the
latest in a series of flare-ups along the border -- should not damage
``We both raised concerns over the incidents of the past weeks and we
both agreed that we will make the utmost effort to ensure that incidents
such as this will not occur again,'' he said.
``Both sides are aware problems such as these should not and will not
escalate to government level, and we still consider the relationship
between the two governments to be friendly and cordial.''
The two sides have been trading accusations since February, when
several Thai and Myanmar soldiers died in an exchange of fire between
the two sides.
Bangkok says the United Wa State Army, a militia group allied to the
Myanmar government, is the source of most of the drugs flooding
Thailand, and has called on Yangon to crack down.
Myanmar says the Shan State Army is the region's main drugs producer.
During Surakiart's visit, angry Myanmar government statements said Thai
troops were backing the Shan rebels and supporting the narcotics trade.
Myanmar's state-run newspapers joined the attack, blaming the border
problems on Thais involved in the trade.
``The Thai tricksters are gaining profits from the drug business and
black-marketing,'' said a commentary in the English-language New Light
of Myanmar on Wednesday.
Surakiart said Myanmar had agreed during his visit to press ahead with
trilateral cooperation with Thailand and China to eradicate drugs
production in the Golden Triangle region.
He said trading accusations with Myanmar was counterproductive.
``Problems will not be resolved by... blaming each other. Problems can
be resolved when both sides sit down and clarify the facts,'' he said.
He denied that Thailand was supporting any ethnic minority militias in
The Nation: Thai foreign minister's moves to ease tension with Burma
"draw cool response"
2 May 01
Foreign minister's efforts to ease border tensions draw cool response
from Rangoon in wake of latest accusation
Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathianthai's fence-mending mission to Burma
was doomed to failure, with Rangoon remaining cool to Thai efforts to
ease tensions, a government source said yesterday.
Surakiart told Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra by telephone that the
Burmese response was less forthcoming than he had hoped and that
higher-level talks may be necessary, the source said.
Surakiat began his first official visit to Burma yesterday, holding
informal talks with the ruling State Peace and Development Council's
intelligence chief, Kyin Nyunt, and Foreign Minister Win Aung.
He also toured the northern capital of Mandalay and Rangoon's Shwedagon
pagoda. Today he is scheduled to call on junta leader Gen Than Shwe.
His visit, which follows the ASEAN foreign ministers' retreat in
Rangoon, had already been marred by Rangoon's latest accusation: that
the Thai army fired shots into Burma to protect Shan rebels fleeing
Meanwhile, Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha confirmed that
Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh had asked Army Third
Region Commander Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong to use less aggressive
tactics towards Burma to help efforts aimed at resolving problems
related to drug trafficking and rising tensions along the border.
Yuthasak said many simmering issues, if aggravated, had the potential to
increase mistrust between the two countries. "If the border situation is
tense, then our chances of forging a better understanding with Burma are
slim," he said.
Burmese troops' encroachment on Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai Province
in February during a flanking attack on Shan rebels enraged Wattanachai.
Backed by the government's stepped-up campaign to stem the flow of drugs
from areas controlled by Rangoon-allied ethnic Wa soldiers, the
commander said an estimated 700 million methamphetamine pills churned
out in jungle refineries inside Burma flowed into Thailand each year.
The Third Army Region command later directed several operations to seize
methamphetamines and heroin produced in Burma.
In the latest move, the army fired several shots across the Burmese
border as a warning to Burmese troops fighting the Shan rebels, who are
based opposite Chiang Mai's Fang district, not to fire shells into Thai
territory. Rangoon claimed the Thai firing was meant to provide cover
for the rebels.
Yuthasak said Chavalit was concerned that the hard-line approach would
further aggravate the situation at the border, especially during the dry
season, when fighting inside Burma typically intensifies and often
spills over into Thailand.
Kyodo: Myanmar accuses Thailand of defamation campaign
YANGON, May 2 Kyodo
Thailand is mounting a systematic campaign to defame Myanmar by helping
drug-trafficking rebels overrun small Myanmar border outposts and then
falsely claiming drugs were found there, a senior Myanmar government
official said Wednesday.
Myanmar Deputy Chief of Intelligence Maj. Gen. Kyaw Win told a press
conference the drugs Thailand says are seized at the vacated outposts
are apparently planted after Myanmar soldiers retreat.
'Myanmar's army is absolutely not involved in any drug business,' he
Lt. Col. San Pwint of the Office of Strategic Studies, meanwhile, listed
a series of incidents in which small Myanmar outposts near the Thai
border were overrun by rebels while the Thai military provided them
cover by shelling from behind with heavy weapons.
San Pwint said the attacks have escalated since last September's visits
to Thailand by then U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and Adm. Dennis
Blair, commander-in-chief of U.S. Pacific forces, as part of efforts to
boost cooperation between the two countries' military forces to counter
'After the visits of Cohen and Blair, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
in northern Thailand gave training to Thai military Task Force 399 to
stem the drug flow from Myanmar and decided to conduct sting attacks
along the border,' he said.
'Unable to solve its domestic drug problem, Thailand is deliberately
putting the blame on Myanmar.'
AFP: Asia's military governments meet as Pakistan leader arrives in
YANGON, May 1 (AFP) - Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf arrived
in the Myanmar capital Tuesday for a three-day visit aimed at building
bridges between Asia's two military governments.
The visit represents a bid by the Myanmar junta for recognition outside
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which it joined four
Musharraf is the first non-ASEAN leader to travel to Myanmar since
1988, when it earned the ire of the international community for
disallowing the results of an election which Aung San Suu Kyi's
opposition won in a landslide.
Also in town this week is an 800-strong contingent from the Pakistani
navy who arrived aboard a destroyer, a tanker and a submarine -- in the
first foreign naval visit to Myanmar in 14 years.
The high-profile Pakistani presence here this week has given rise to
speculation that Myanmar is looking to buy more weapons from its South
Asian counterpart, which was the first nation to supply it with arms
Wild fluctuations in the value of the kyat currency against the dollar
last week sent rumours flying around Yangon that a military-linked
agency was buying up greenbacks to pay for the deal.
The value of the kyat plummeted on the black market from 500 against
the dollar to 720, prompting the government to round up more than 70
currency dealers to curb the speculation and settle the currency at
However, analysts said Musharraf's visit was more likely to be a
getting-to-know-you exercise than a venue for making major decisions or
inking arms contracts.
"I doubt there will be any important discussions on anything except
general cooperation," said Myanmar-watcher Chayachoke Chulasiriwongs
from Thailand's Chulalongkorn University.
"When you look at the geographic position of the two countries, they
are far apart. I think this is more or less trying to improve relations
... It would be to the benefit of Myanmar to get more recognition with
Chayachoke said the generals in Yangon would continue to rely on China
-- their main provider of weaponry and a key sponsor against the
punishing sanctions that have brought Myanmar's economy to its knees.
"I doubt if there'll be any military cooperation. China has been
helping support the Myanmar government on weapons sales," he said.
However, he said that during his three-day visit Musharraf may work to
ensure that Pakistan is not left out as India moves to tighten its
relationship with Myanmar.
"Although India is aiming at balancing power with China, it means the
two countries are leaving Pakistan out. Pakistan would like to come into
this triangular relationship," he said.
Musharraf's visit, the first by a Pakistani leader since late military
ruler Mohammad Zia ul Haq came here in 1985, will be followed by a
two-day trip to communist Vietnam.
Officials in Islamabad said the tour "reflects Pakistan's desire to
further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation with the
countries of the region."
Musharraf is scheduled to hold talks with Myanmar's leader Senior
General Than Shwe, chairman of the ruling State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC), and its influential first secretary Lieutenant General
He will also lay a wreath at the mausoleum of the last Mughal emperor
Bahadur Shah Zafar and visit defence service academies at Mandalay in
The Observer: Promoting freedom in Burma
Only the generals have the freedom of the press in Burma - but the
internet is providing one channel for real information
Press Freedom campaign
Aung Zaw, Editor, Irrawaddy magazine
Tuesday May 1, 2001
As an exiled journalist who is detested by the Burmese military
government, my life is full of challenges.
Yet I have also had some fascinating and unexpected experiences since I
began my career as journalist in 1993, when I set up an independent
media group to publish a political magazine reflecting the Burmese
This magazine provides an alternative to those who are fed up with both
the regime-controlled papers and bulletins put out by members of the
opposition in exile.
Promoting freedom of the press among Burmese people both in and out of
Burma is a tough job, but after suffering years of oppression, there are
many Burmese who appreciate the nobility and importance of this freedom.
These days, healthy debate and professional, constructive reporting are
in constant demand from Burmese living both in and out of their
The internet is a miraculous tool for disseminating news and
information. Nevertheless, many tend to abuse it rather than using it in
constructive ways to help mankind. The benefits of using the internet
for Burmese in exile are tremendous: better communication and better
information. However, the generals in Rangoon see use of the internet as
a threat to their authority.
Recently, the military intelligence chief in my country said that press
freedom in Burma is permitted to an appropriate degree. This claim is
total nonsense, as, in fact, press freedom in Burma is completely
non-existent. At this moment, about twenty professional journalists are
languishing in Burma's gulag.
Nevertheless, in a sense he is right, as the generals themselves enjoy
absolute press freedom. They can attack democratic principles, insult
the whole population and publish whatever they like in the
government-controlled papers, radio and TV.
Aung Zaw is the editor of Irrawaddy magazine, established by Burmese
citizens in exile to promote press freedom and access to unbiased
information and which also covers other areas of Southeast Asia.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Business Times (Malaysia): Business as usual in Myanmar despite US
May 2, 2001
By Kamarul Yunus
BUSINESS in Myanmar continues to prosper despite the US imposing
sanction two years ago, Mandalay Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice
chairman Aung Win Khainy said.
He said the Myanmar nationals do not seem to be perturbed over the US
sanction, which had been imposed to champion human rights and democracy
"They (Myanmar nationals) were in no way affected by the sanction as
they have alternatives to boost their economic activities, mainly using
local resources, especially wood and agriculture products as well as
cheap labour," he told Malaysian journalists who were on an eight-day
visit to Myanmar since April 22.
The visit was mooted following the discussion between Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Myanmar's ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council chairman Senior General Than Shwe in January.
Aung Win Khainy, who is also chairman of Hi-Tech Forest Industries Co
Ltd and MCI Mandalay Cement Industries Co Ltd as well as Yadanar Bone
director, said the sanction had to some extent strengthened the spirit
of local entrepreneurs to work hard.
"Last year, three American senators met me, wanting to know the impact
of the sanction on the Myanmar people.
"I told them that we are not feeling the pinch. Our exports now go to
the Third World countries instead of the Americans. They are the ones
will suffer," he said.
Aung Win Khainy admitted that the sanction will affect major and high-
However, he said it would not jeopardise the inflow of investments for
small and medium-scale projects which are considered the backbone of
Myanmar's economic activities.
On whether Myanmar entrepreneurs will be threatened by the influx of
foreign investors into the country when it opens its market, he said
this will not arise.
He added that such a move will create healthy competition between
foreign investors and the local entrepreneurs.
As an Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) member, he said
Myanmar has to bear this in mind as the gouping moves towards more
liberalised economies when the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) takes place.
"The small and medium-scale projects are important to us as we move
towards implementing Afta requirements," he said.
He said foreigners, especially Malaysians, should capitalise on
Myanmar's cheap labour. Salaries given to the locals range between US$10
(US$1 = RM3.80) and US$70 a month.
Meanwhile, Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister U Khin Maung Win said Myanmar
made a right move to join Asean in 1997.
"We decided to join because of the basic changes in international
relations from the new perspective.
"In our foreign policy, the neighbouring country is top priority.
Although we develop through our own efforts, Asean countries can play a
role so that we can develop beneficial relations.
"In view of the increasing pace of globalisation, the role of regional
enhancement should be strengthened," he said.
Myanmar gained independence in 1948 but prior to 1997, it has never been
part of a regional group, except under the United Nations banner.
"We joined Asean in 1997 and that is one of the fundamental changes in
our foreign policy," he said.
On why Myanmar had not taken steps earlier to join Asean, he said the
actual contact was made in 1994 when Myanmar was preparing for
"But the misinterpretation by the foreign media, especially from the
West on the country, hampered our preparations," he said.
BurmaNet: Myanmar Chamber of Commerce changes tune on sanctions
May 2, 2001
In today's Business Times (Malaysia), the chairman of the Mandalay
branch of Burma's Chamber of Commerce and Industryis quoted as saying
that Burma was "in no way affected by [US sanctions] as they have
alternatives to boost their economic activities, mainly using
local resources, especially wood and agriculture products as well as
cheap labour." (See above). His assertion stands in some contrast to
an open letter organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry last
December in which the organization pleaded with the International Labor
Organization not to impose further sanctions. In that letter, the MCCI
wrote "With the
imposition of restrictions and sanctions, the international trading and
business activities in Myanmar, of which we form the cornerstone, will
be crippled and widespread national economic decline will occur." See
Myanmar Times: Workers, businesses
unite to plead an ILO sanction rethink. December 4-10, 2000.
Even though the ILO has yet to impose additional sanctions, widespread
national economic decline does appear to be occurring, with the Kyat
plunging past the 600 to the dollar mark.
The New Light of Myanmar (SPDC): Beware of poisonous relations
Wednesday, 2 May, 2001
Two-hundred Thai troops, placing some of Ywet Sit's men in the
forefront, attacked Pachee outpost of the Myanmar Tatmadaw in Myanmar
territory on 22 April 2001 early morning. A Thai military camp which was
located 50 yards from the outpost inside the Thai territory also took
part in the collusion. It gave supporting fire and projected
searchlights on the outpost. In February also the Thai army made an
intrusion on Myanmar territory by placing Ywet Sit's men in the
SURA members of Ywet Sit and KNU remnants are being used as suicide
squads for Thai intruders. These insurgent groups are taking refuge in
Thailand as they are not in a position to live in Myanmar territory.
Thus, they are trying to please their benefactors who are minions of the
west group. The west group in raising and using the nationalist Chinese
troops used opium trafficking as a fund-raising activity to reduce cost.
The west bloc has already made arrangements for KNU, KPP, SURA, DAB and
MTA insurgent groups to rely on extortion money, robbery, taxes on
contraband and stimulant tablet and heroin production.
The greater portion of money from the western aids for expatriates and
insurgents goes to the pockets of Thai tricksters. Thus, the Thai
tricksters are raising the insurgents to earn money. I have the positive
attitude towards the entire people of Thailand and the good persons. I
felt so unhappy to see that the Thai people are being tainted because of
the Thai tricksters who are longing for gifts for self-benefits. These
Thai tricksters have ruled Thailand throughout history.
There are such tricksters in the Thai army, business sphere, political
arena and in journalist world. They have been raising expatriates in
launching provocative acts and military intrusions on the neighbours in
collusion with the troops of the west bloc. There are many historical
Thailand has made intrusion on Myanmar since the time of Ayudhya. In the
modern history, the country actively took part in SEATO and launched
military intrusions on the surrounding countries.
During the Lao and Cambodian civil wars, the Thai troops in cooperation
with the American troops attacked those nations. America took part in
Vietnam war. Tens of thousands of Thai military troops took part in the
war from the South Vietnamese side. They attacked Cambodia in
cooperation with America. During the Lao civil war in 1970s, there were
attacks among the Pathet Lao (leftist) troops, neutral troops and the
rightist troops. The American CIA helped the rightist troops. The Thai
army was also involved in the incident. In an effort to make the
situation confused, some Thai troops wearing the uniforms of Pathet Lao
army, attacked and tortured Lao civilians. I have seen the photo showing
Thai troops wearing Pathet Lao army uniforms in the international
Thais stealthily sold arms to Khmer Rouge accused by the west as a
notorious group for killing people in millions. They bought rubies and
teak from the Khmer Rouge at low prices. As long as there are insurgents
along the border with Myanmar, they will continue to get rich by
smuggling out jade, ruby, teak, rubber, minerals, cattle and ancient
artifacts. The police are getting bribes from the border opium
trafficking business. Myanmar Tatmadaw captured 30 bribe-collecting Thai
police collecting extortion money together with their helicopter when it
seized Kongmeikhein heroin refining camp in the easternmost sector of
Kayah State at the border in June 1977.
The whole Thailand is being rusted like a lump of iron by the Thai
tricksters. The Thai tricksters are gaining profits from drug business
and black-marketing. But Myanmar is launching narcotic drugs eradication
with might and main. If the opium supplies from Myanmar will be cut off,
the drug-addicts from Thailand and the western world will get into
trouble and the Thai tricksters will lose profits from the drug
business. Thus, the Thais do not want to see Myanmar troops stationed
near the border and wish local people of the border to face poverty.
Only then will they be able to refine drugs at the unguarded areas and
employ local people in poppy growing business. With this evil scheme,
the Thais are disturbing all the goodwill efforts of Myanmar with
aggressive attitude. Very often, the Thai army places drugs at the
border and seizes them as if they come from Myanmar.
At present, the spy agencies of the west are launching clandestine
operations to cause political and economic instabi-lity in Southeast
Asia region. They are disturbing regional unity, stability and
development and trying to weaken the governments which do not yield to
their influence. At a time when the west wants to destroy ASEAN and set
up an organization like SEATO under their domination, should the Thai
tricksters do such perpetrations?
Myanmar has never launched aggressive or evil attacks against any
neighbouring country and breached the principles of international
relations for self-benefits. In this situation, those who are aggressive
towards Myanmar are the evil ones. We will point finger at the Thai
tricksters only as the ones breaching the good-neighbourly practices. We
will never point a finger at Thailand and its people.
Tachilek is separated from Maesai in Thailand by a small creek. There
were amicable bilateral relations and trade. Ywet Sit and Watanachai and
group destroyed the situation. The persons who are suffering are Thai
merchants. Those who are suffering from the closure of the
Tachilek-Maesai Friendship Bridge are not Myanmars, but Thais. Recently,
Thai merchants staged a strike against Thai government in Maesai as a
show of protest. Myanmar has many other good neighbours and friendly
trading partners. Myanmars are getting raw materials and finished goods
as required. Those ones that are suffering are Thai factories
maufacturing goods for the Myanmar market and the Thai merchants.
As there is power difficulty in Tachilek, a Myanmar national
entrepreneur is building a power station. A power generator was bought
to supply power before the completion of the station and to put it as a
reserve station in the future. The generator was transported to Myanmar
through Thailand as the route would be more convenient. The machine
arrived at Maesai in April 2001. The Thai authorities there tried to
find fault with the machine. They said that they could not let the
machine pass through the border as it was a coal-burn power generation
machine which could cause environmental pollution and that it was owned
by drug-trafficker Wa national group. All these accusations are wrong.
The machine will never cause any environmental pollution and the Wa
group has never engaged in drug business. It is concentrating efforts on
drug elimination. The wicked act is against the good-neighbourly
practices. The real fact is that Thailand never wants Tachilek, which is
buying electricity! !
from Thailand, to be able to rely on its own for power. The monosodium
glutamate and soft drinks which came from Thailand contain excessive
degree of harmful chemicals. In other words, it can be said that they
are poisoned. Myanmar should always beware of the acts to poison
Author : Thadindauk Tet She
Berlitz GlobalNET: Burmese Interpreters needed
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Francisco and Los Angeles. If you have any contacts or ideas of how to
find someone interested in providing freelance interpretation services,
please feel free to email me. We appreciate your help and thank you for
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